What is Kaizen Method? Steps and Examples

what is kaizen method

In social networks and other media, the Kaizen method has been talked about for a long time. This is considered by many a mere type of methodology or business tool. According to those who have applied it, a philosophy of work and good practices that allows achieving excellence in various areas of business activity and, consequently, of one’s own personal life.

If you want to know more about the Kaizen method, the steps that must be followed to perform it correctly, and examples of success on that method, we recommend that you continue reading the following article. Discover what is Kaizen method.

What is Kaizen method?

Kaizen philosophy emerged as a socio-economic movement in Japan after the Second World War. The country plunged into a crisis that covered all areas of society, saw how Western nations progressed towards a future that, for them, was increasingly distant. To compete with companies and the great giants of Europe and the United States, the Japanese government devised an organization and management system aimed at achieving success and perfection in all areas of a company. To do this, we had to work in all the fields of the company: human resources, security, productivity, environment, etc.

what is kaizen method


With time and the help of the Kaizen methodology, Japanese companies achieved excellence and total quality of their products. His motto: “Today, better than yesterday. Tomorrow, better than today,” sums up perfectly a philosophy in which a fighting spirit and continuous improvement is the main engine and the basis of everything. Thanks to Kaizen, Japan resurfaced from its ashes and, in a short time, became an economic power.

Points of the Kaizen philosophy

The Kaizen method has crossed borders and has become one of the preferred methods for many companies. They want to optimize those resources they already have to obtain until the last drop of profit. These are the three main points of the Kaizen philosophy:

  • Achieve a perfect and quality product: reduce costs both in the production of the final product and energy level.
  • Improve the employment status of employees through the creation of a safe environment and workplace and where one feels valued. The development of safety protocols that allow promoting safety at work, risk reduction and other dangers
  • Reduce the environmental impact through an appropriate waste management policy.

How to apply the Kaizen continuous improvement process?

As you can see, the Kaizen method has advantages that any company, whether large or small, would be eager to achieve. Whether you are an entrepreneur or if you want to start your business or work in a company’s quality department. You will be interested to know how to apply the Kaizen continuous improvement process. To do this, it is essential to apply what is called the “5 S” :

Seiri: in this phase, the question arises of what elements are really necessary to produce. The elements that reduce time and resources and eliminate or reduce those that have proved unusable or contribute nothing to production.

Seiton: once the superfluous is eliminated, in the section, those elements that are essential in production must be listed and organized.

Seiso: This third step consists of the resolution capacity and the reaction that a group of people adopts before a problem. In this “s,” it is important to know how to identify a problem in order to apply the most convenient solution.

Seiketsu: human capital is an essential part of every company and, the Kaizen method, it is clear. Promoting a positive work environment where there are guarantees of health and safety at work, as well as sufficient incentives. It will promote teamwork and excellent performance of all the talents of a business.

Shitsuke: means commitment. The commitment by all, departments, managers, and employees to ensure that the Kaizen method is successfully implemented in the company.

Once the 5 S are known and begin to be applied, problems can arise when it comes to taking the appropriate steps to get the Kaizen method implemented successfully. Companies such as the manufacturer of Toyota vehicles or giants in the world of technology such as Sony have been working and improving continuously for decades thanks to the Kaizen method. They are achieving that their products are required worldwide for their quality and excellence.

Some practical examples

Learn to communicate: encouraging communication between the various departments and hierarchies of a company is vital to detect failures or errors in the management or manufacture of a product, as well as to resolve conflicts and give birth to new ideas that improve and contribute something to the company. Establishing an agenda of meetings with varied duration and frequency (weekly, monthly, quarterly, …) is an excellent idea.

Foster order: keeping an orderly and clean workplace translates into a way of working with the same characteristics. Picking up our worktable after the day will allow us to work much better the next day.

Working as a team: surely, this is not the first time you hear about the importance of teamwork. The organization of groups of a few people (2 or 4, for example) to carry out a project is an excellent idea if we want to promote the involvement and proactivity of employees.

Set a common goal: that the different teams we discussed in the previous point have a common goal, will help each and every employee of a company come together to achieve success. The motivation of the employee at the individual and global level is essential to achieve the best results, thus canceling any attempt at sabotage or bad practices within the company.

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